They’ll say it’s not about the money. But it’s very much about the money.
The Nationals have mapped out Stephen Strasburg’s September schedule, and in what should come as a surprise to no one, the plan is for him to keep pitching at Nationals Ballpark.
Strasburg, who made his season debut Tuesday against the Dodgers, was already set to pitch on four days’ rest Sunday against the Astros in D.C. He’ll make his subsequent two starts on five days’ rest Sept. 17 against the Marlins and Sept. 23 against the Braves.
If all three outings go as hoped, the Nats said there’s a chance he could start Sept. 28 in Florida in what will be the team’s season finale. Still, that’s not part of the plan at this point.
Unless Strasburg makes that start, all four of his September outings will have come at home. And who can blame the Nats for trying to work things out that way? Half the reason they made the announcement now is to try to sell tickets for those dates. There just isn’t much other reason for Nationals fans to head to the ballpark at the moment.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.